Collaborative Justice

Juvenile justice, social services and mental health need to form partnerships, pool resources and share experience. By doing so, we can be a team of connected professionals offering solutions meeting unique needs.

The success of a collaborative team relies upon the desire and willingness of each participant to dedicate themselves and their time to the collaborative process; to set aside individual agency agendas in pursuit of a shared and larger goal; and to recognize that collaborative justice is a long term process, requiring the establishment and maintenance of solid collaborative partnerships with other agencies and community stakeholders. The long–term benefits of the collaborative approach - including a shared ownership of, responsibility for, and success in solving justice system problems - will undoubtedly make the investment worthwhile.

Practical Application

When young children find themselves wrapped up in the juvenile justice system because of their behaviors, it can be a challenge for the team of adults tasked with finding appropriate solutions, as well as, consequences that will change the behaviors and not leave the victim or their family feeling as if the system failed them. Recently, I received a call about a 10 year-old that was facing molestation charges. A victim of sexual abuse himself, he became a perpetrator against several younger family members. Because this child’s team, as well as, the child’s family had a collaborative mindset, they searched for appropriate options BEFORE the child went before a judge. The team researched appropriate treatment based on this boy’s individual needs looking towards changing the trauma-fueled behaviors and preventing future perpetrating acts. In his case, juvenile justice, mental health and two state’s health authorities worked collaboratively to secure the funding and placement details for this boy in an appropriate setting.

In our line of work, partnerships are essential. For the best outcomes, we must work together. Pooling our resources, our knowledge and our unique but intertwined missions, we can wrap services around juveniles, their family members and their communities to assist them in living more productive, less destructive lives.


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